2011 October — Rwandinfo_ENG
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Posts from — October 2011

Call for Action: Tell Obama about Paul Kagame and Tony Blair

by Theogene Rudasingwa.

RWANDANS, FELLOW AFRICAN AND AMERICAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS
CALL THE WHITE HOUSE IMMEDIATELY

It is not known what exactly President Obama and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will discuss this Monday 10/31/2011. The middle east will be part of the agenda. Reliable sources indicate that Tony Blair will use the occasion to intercede on behalf of his business client, Paul Kagame, and try to convince President Obama to drop any questions and doubts he has about the man with the worst human rights record in modern African history.

Call the White House tonight with these talking points:

A) Paul Kagame is responsible for:

1. Shooting down the plane in which the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and all their entourage were killed.

2. Grave human rights abuses, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possible acts of genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda against Rwandans( Hutu) in Rwands before, during and after 1994. Cite the UN Mapping Report.

3. Completely closing the political space in Rwanda and jailing, killing or forcing into exile political opposition leaders, journalists, human rights activists, and closing space for civil society.

4. Serious corrupt practices, including private use and misuse of poor Rwandan taxpayers who live on less than one dollar per day, and channeling US taxpayers money to buying private jets and 20,000 $ a night luxury hotels in New York.

5. President Kagame has assassinated opponents abroad, and still tries to assassinate Rwandan exiles in Europe, Africa, United States in Canada. In the UK, Tony Blair is aware that British Police this year alerted Rwandans resident in the UK that there was evidence that the Rwandan Government was planning to kill them using conventional and unconventional means. In South Africa court hearing continues in a case in which Rwandan security agents under Paul Kagame’s orders tried to assassinate Lt. Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, formerly Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Military and Ambassador to India.

B) About Tony Blair:

Tell President Obama that Tony Blair while UK Prime Minister, and now as Paul Kagame’s principal lobbyist has worked, and continues to work hard, to conceal the above crimes committed by his client Kagame.

C) Share with President Obama the way forward:

(a) Call on President Obama to lead an international effort to bring Paul Kagame to account for the terrorist crime of shooting a civilian plane in which two Heads of State and others were killed on April 6, 1994

b) Call for for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners;

(c) Demand an end to persecution (including arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, involuntary disappearances and extra-judicial killings) of government opponents and critics and their relatives;

(d) Demand an end to the practice of channeling the development assistance that the United States provides to Rwanda through budget support;

(e) Condition the development assistance that the United States provides to the Rwanda government on political reforms, including opening up political space;

(f) Use regional and united Nations human rights mechanisms to ensure that President Kagame and his security officials are held accountable for gross human rights violations that are committed against innocent citizens in and outside Rwanda;

(g) Call upon the government of Rwanda to agree to a comprehensive and unconditional dialogue with all the opposition on ways for resolving the political impasse engulfing Rwanda; and,

(h) Call upon the international community, especially the UNHCR and United Nations member states, to reject the Government of Rwanda’s manipulation to apply the refugee cessation clause until an enabling environment conducive to the return of refugees has been created.

October 31, 2011   7 Comments

Rudasingwa about ‘Rwandan Genocide’ vs ‘Genocide against Tutsis’

Question by Claude Bakari:
What do you think about the genocide which occurred in Rwanda being named “The genocide against the tutsi” instead “The Rwandan genocide”, while we know that during the genocide there has been also a huge number of hutu victims, especially those who were in opposition parties or simply because they do not agree with genocide action?

Answer by Theogene Rudasingwa:
Genocide is a specific and technical definition. That there was genocide against Tutsi in 1994 has been established in international law. That there were war crimes, crimes against humanity, and even possibly genocide against Hutu in Rwanda and DRC has been investigated and documented, lately by the UN Mapping report. The international community and Kagame’s regime would like this matter to be frozen.

Question to the reader: Did Theogene Rudasingwa answer the question to your satisfaction? Comments welcome below.

October 31, 2011   2 Comments

Rwanda’s Red Sea Moment

by Theogene Rudasingwa

So here we are, like the Israelites in ancient times, trapped between our own Pharaoh (Kagame) pursuing us and our own red sea (challenges) before us.
Among us are people who are fearful, even preferring to go back to captivity. Among us are those that are easily distracted and deceived by little idols we have created for ourselves (material stuff) forgetting the abundan…t promise that awaits us beyond the red sea.
There are those who have hard hearts and would not wish to believe in the good news that we are diverse families, yet destined for a great promise for one strong and indivisible nation. Then we also have time to grumble about this and that. Fear, idolatry, hard and unbelieving hearts, and grumbling are what is delaying our own deliverance from this desert we have been in for too long. We must conquer these enemies first, and God will frustrate and defeat Kagame’s schemes before our own eyes.

Seven things to think about:

1. Believe and receive the promise that Rwandans will reach the promised land

2. Let us determine as quickly as possible how many were. In Rwanda we are told we are 11 miilion. Outside Rwanda how many are we, refugees and non-refugees, country by country?

3. We shall get mobilised and organized community by community, and have community leaders chosen by their own communities.

4. Be light on stuff. A good soldier travels light. Our spending priorities are our children’s education, shelter and basic upkeep. The rest should be invested into our common future, for our children and grandchildren. The place to begin is this journey we have began. Freeze unnecessary consumption.

5. Talk to your children in simple terms why this journey is for them, and how important it is. If you do not talk to them now, and yourself, who will and when? The pharaoh spends fortunes polluting and deceiving the minds of our children. It is time to give our children a different education.

6. Women: gather your treasures of gold and silver. These will be handy on rainy days we anticipate ahead.

7. Reach out to the friends we have made during our captivity, the ones who welcomed us, fed us, and clothed us when we were pitiful and dejected strangers in foreign lands. They are with us on this journey. When we reach home, our land shall be their land too.

Above all, let us struggle with song and joy. Aren’t we glad that we are the chosen generation to take our people out of captivity? Can there be a task more important and more satisfying?

BEWARE. IF WE LOSE THIS WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY, WE SHALL CONDEMN GENERATIONS OF OUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN TO DECADES IF NOT CENTURIES IN CAPTIVITY.

October 30, 2011   No Comments

Calls to become increasingly louder to suspend Rwanda from the Commonwealth

Rwanda at risk of becoming another Zimbabwe

26 October 2011 – Australia and other Commonwealth Governments naively believed admission to the Commonwealth would support Rwanda’s path to democracy, but human rights abuses have continued and worsened, President of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Frank Habineza and Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown warned today.

“The Commonwealth should take action or risk Rwanda becoming another Zimbabwe. Without swift action, the calls will become louder to suspend the Commonwealth’s newest member,” Senator Brown said.

“The entry of Rwanda into the Commonwealth in 2009 was allowed despite suspicions of political abuses being undertaken by the Government. A coalition of Greens in Commonwealth nations, including Senator Brown, warned against Rwanda being admitted without conditions being placed on its entry,” Mr Habineza said.

“The 2010 Presidential elections saw the Kagame government becoming increasingly intolerant towards the central role that opposition parties and a free media have in robust democracies,” Mr Habineza said.

Senator Brown and Mr Habineza call on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group to undertake the following steps in the next 12 months:

● Fund the provision of ballot box seals which are uniquely numbered or identifiable, to ensure security seals are a security feature for the next Chamber of Deputies election in Rwanda in
2013;

● Provide observers to oversee the registration of opposition political parties in the six month leading up to the next election, and advise if there have been irregularities in this process;

● Request the Government to re-open the investigation into the death of the Green Party Vice President, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka which occurred on 14 July 2010;

● Seek input from civil society organisations like Friends of Rwandan Greens;

● Pressure the Rwandan Government to release political prisoners and jailed journalists, and letting the independent media operate freely.

“Around the globe Green MPs will be watching to ensure the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group is taking active steps to improve democracy in Rwanda,” Senator Brown said.

Concerns have already been expressed by Human Rights Watch, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Amnesty International and also the Commonwealth Observer Group that democracy in Rwanda is being undermined.

Media contact: Marion Rae 0438 376 082

www.greensmps.org.au

October 26, 2011   1 Comment

Rwanda/ICTR: Genocide convict Michel Bagaragaza to be freed early

Michel Bagaragaza

Michel Bagaragaza

Arusha, October 25, 2011 (FH) – For the first time ever, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has granted early release to one of its convicts, Michel Bagaragaza, who has served three-quarters of an eight year sentence for complicity to commit genocide.

Under a court order issued Monday by ICTR president Judge Khalida Rachid Khan, the former head of the Rwandan Tea Authority is to be released on December 1, 2011 from the prison in Sweden where he is currently jailed. Judge Khan directed the ICTR Registry to inform the Rwandan and Swedish authorities about the order as soon as possible.

Judge Khan based her decision on jurisprudence of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) regarding release after three-quarters of a sentence served; on the fact that Bagaragaza confessed to crimes and expressed remorse; and on his good behaviour in jail as attested by the Swedish prison authorities.

Bagaragaza surrendered himself to the ICTR on August 15, 2005 and pleaded guilty to complicity to commit genocide. He confessed to stocking arms used during the genocide at the Rubaya tea factory in Gisenyi prefecture (northern Rwanda). He also said he gave money, arms and the use of tea factory vehicles to Interahamwe militia who were massacring Tutsis, out of fears for the safety of himself and his family.

On November 17, 2009, the ICTR found Bagaragaza guilty and sentenced him to eight years in jail  with credit for the time already served in the ICTR Detention Facility since 2005. He was sent to Sweden in July 2010 to complete his sentence.

In the past, the ICTR has always refused requests for early release of its convicts. In April 2009, Italy unilaterally released Italo-Belgian ICTR convict Georges Ruggiu, in violation of the ICTR Statute. Ruggiu also pleaded guilty before the ICTR. He is the only non-Rwandan to have been tried by the Tribunal.

[Hirondelle News Agency]

October 26, 2011   No Comments

Trial in Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa’s shooting: Rwandans protest outside the Johannesburg court

Lt Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa mu bitaro i Johannesburg

Lt Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa in hospital (Johannesburg)

Johannesburg 24 October 2011 – Rwandans living in South Africa gathered today outside the court where six accomplices are standing trial on accusations of plotting to kill Rwandan Lt. Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa. He was shot and wounded in Johannesburg last year.
The protesters wore T-shirts splashed with red hand prints and the slogan: “Kagame is a serial killer.”

Kagame = Serial Killer

October 24, 2011   1 Comment

Rwanda: No More Hope for a Fair Trial for Political Prisoner Victoire Ingabire

by Boniface Twagirimana.

Rwanda: Dead End for the Kangaroo Trial of Political Prisoner Ingabire

Kigali 20 October 2011 – In limbo for weeks, the kangaroo trial of the Rwandan opposition leader Madame Victoire Ingabire, is now in a dead end. It has been adjourned until 24 October 2011 on the request of the defence counsel, visibly humbled by repeated harassments and threats aired by the presiding judge Alice Rulisa in violation of the due process rights, acting as a prosecutor when questioning the defendant. One lawyer received a last warning to have his powers of attorney revoked and loose his status in the Rwandan courts.

Ethics violations, procedural rules violated, due process violations and threats to the lawyers have been the way of justice in this circus. Madame Victoire Ingabire and her defence counsel have lost hope in a fair trial.

The presiding judge Alice Rulisa has clearly articulated beliefs and opinions that reveal her partiality and bias against the defendant and her counsel. The judge has refused to respect the non-retroactivity of the criminal law and has spent many days grilling the defendant on allegations and publications that happened many years before the criminal laws in consideration. The court has refused to discuss the territorial jurisdiction of the High Court in this case. The judges have continued to require the defendant to produce supporting documents I.e. the whole UN mapping report, the whole UN security council resolutions and Amnesty international or Human rights reports, just to force the defendant to discuss the credibility of those organisations and their quality to report on Rwanda, a country that is not theirs. Judge Rulisa has consistently framed the issue from a personal perspective when she stated that she gives no credit to all those international researches and reports, and instead that the prosecutor is right to press charges.

It’s the presiding judge’s right not to trust the work of international organisations, nevertheless their publications are established references and the defendant should not be forced to respond to all the questions of the government of Rwanda on those reports.

This process has reached a stalemate. It’s time to tell Rwandans and the world.

Boniface Twagirimana
Interim Vice-President
FDU-Inkingi

October 24, 2011   No Comments

Hundreds of sympathizers celebrate Ingabire’s 43th birthday in The Netherlands

On Saturday 22, 2011, hundreds of friends and sympathizers met in Zevenhuizen in The Netherlands to celebrate the 43th birthday of the courageous Rwandan oppposition leader Victoire Ingabire who is on trial in Rwanda.

Happy Birthday Ingabire...

Hundreds celebrate Ingabire's Birthday - oct 2011

People honour Ingabire's humanity, courage and determination - Oct 2011.

October 24, 2011   No Comments

Controversial Honorary Plaque to Paul Kagame of Rwanda at Sacramento State University on November 3rd, 2011

[wpaudio url=”http://www.anngarrison.com/sites/default/files/mp3/Kagame%20Coming%20to%20Sacramento%20State_0.mp3″ text=”Listen to KPFA Weekend News: Kagame Coming to Sacramento State” dl=”0″]

Transcript:

KPFA Weekend News Host Anthony Fest: Turning now to Africa news,

Kagame against his People

Rwandan President Paul Kagame exhorted a crowd during Rwanda’s 2010 presidential election, in which no viable candidates were allowed to run.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame will be traveling to Northern California to attend an international conference on genocide at Sacramento State University from November 1st to November 4th. Kagame will deliver the keynote address on November 3rd, after which the President of Sacramento State University is scheduled to present him with an honorary plaque.

However the Chairs of Sacramento State’s History and Government Departments are collecting faculty signatures on a letter to the university’s president, in which they question the wisdom of awarding President Kagame with an honorary plaque in the university’s name.

KPFA’s Ann Garrison has the story.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Seventeen years of UN reports have documented Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s war crimes in Rwanda and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They include the 1994 Gersony Report documenting his army’s reprisal massacres of Rwandan Hutus, after he seized power in Rwanda in 1994. They also include the 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2008 UN Reports of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the 2010 UN Mapping Report on Human RIghts Abuse in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 1993 – 2003.

There are also many documented allegations, including, now, of that Kagame’s own former Chief of Staff Theogene Rudasingwa that Kagame himself was most responsible for the Rwanda Genocide.

KPFA spoke to Sacramento State University History Professor Michael Vann, after learning that he and other faculty had concerns about Kagame’s appearance at a Sacramento State academic conference.

KPFA: Michael Vann, could you explain faculty concern about President Kagame’s visit?

General Kagame and his troops

Rwandan President Paul Kagame with his troops.

Michael Vann: Yes, our initial concern regarded the academic contribution. This is an academic event and it was uncertain to us why a political head of state would be addressing the conference and what he would have to contribute to the academic discussion. It also appears that he is receiving a series of honorific introductions and is going to be offered a plaque by the president of Sacramento State University, and it’s unclear what is behind this.

More seriously, many of the faculty members, and myself, have deep concerns over, perhaps the failure to properly vet Paul Kagame as a visitor to the campus. Specifically, we’re concerned about his role as a military leader in the 1990s, both in Congo and in Rwanda.  And then more recently, his role as a political leader in Rwanda.  And then there’s deep concern, based on UN reports, about his role in the plunder of the eastern Congo.  And finally, there’s the disturbing report, just about a week ago, that he may have been complicit in the 1994 assassination that launched the genocidal action.

KPFA: Do you have any thoughts about the concepts of negationism and revisionism so central to this conference?

Michael Vann: The subtitle of the conference is “Negation, Revisionism, Survivors’ Testimonies, Eyewitness Accounts, Justice and Memory.”   And it’s telling that negationism, genocide ideology and divisionism have been developed as legal concepts in Rwanda to crack down on hate speech that could lead to genocide. Now while this is understandable, for trying to re-establish order in a post conflict society, the reports detail that these concepts, specifically genocide ideology and divisionism, have been used for political purposes, such as jailing political opponents, influencing the political climate before the 2010 election, and intimidating journalists. And the use of such concepts would be directly at odds with the academic agenda based upon freedom of inquiry, freedom of speech, that this conference would want to embody.

KPFA: Michael Vann, thank you for speaking to KPFA.

Michael Vann: Thank you very much.

For ongoing coverage of President Kagame’s upcoming visit to Northern California, see the San Francisco Bay View Newspaper, sfbayview.com, and, keep listening to KPFA.

[Ann Garrison]

October 21, 2011   1 Comment

Rwanda New Cabinet: Kagame shakes up power set-up

by Fred W. Mwasa, The Chronicles.

Paul Kagame - Rwanda

Paul Kagame – Rwanda

IN A GOVERNMENT reshuffle on Thursday last week, President Kagame made a surprise announcement by appointing Pierre Damien Habumuremyi as the new Prime Minister.

Habumuremyi had been named five months earlier as the Minister of Education. At the same time, the President also appointed four Senator. These include, Ombudsman Tito Rutaremara, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Dr Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Internal Security, Penelope Kantarama and former PM Bernard Makuza.

” Former PM, Bernard Makuza treading a tricky political path”‘

As expected, on Monday the senate was sworn-in and Dr Ntawukuriryayo elected the new senate president and Makuza his deputy. Ntawukuriryayo comes from the same party, PSD, as the man he is replacing, Dr Vincent Biruta while Makuza is an ‘independent’ his party, MDR having been banned in 2002 on allegations of promoting ethnic divisionism and the politics of ethnicity.

While the changes signal continuation of the current power-sharing arrangements agreed between the elite and enshrined in the 2003 constitution, political pundits say that these changes, because of the profiles of individuals involve also represent political alignment with succession at the presidency in 2017 hitting a crescendo. President Kagame has said he will respect the constitution and retire when his second constitution term comes to an end in 2017. The president’s latest move and in the near future could boost or shatter many a political dream.

Makuza treading tricky political path

While some have argued that Bernard Makuza was replaced because he had served in the position for a long time (more than a decade), others argue that his replacement and relocation to the Senate is politically significant in rearranging the political map in the run up to 2017 when President Kagame is expected to step down.

The appointment of Mr. Makuza, a well-breed fellow, from a historically well known political family and probably one of the very few Rwandans in the current government who was brought up during heydays of MDR to the Senate possibly curbs his potential ambition at the presidency in 2017.

Nonetheless, Pundits argue that his continued stay in government, including his election to the post of senate vice president despite not officially belonging to any political party is a reward for being royal to the president and showing limited higher political ambition thus far or trying to challenge the political order as some of his former party colleagues have done.

Kagame - Power shake-up 2011What has caught the pundits’ eye is the fact that the Senate seat has a constitutional mandate of eight years. As the Senate Vice-President, Makuza would be a heart-beat away from the presidency but equally far from it depending on the political dynamics in 2017, when he shall still be the deputy head of the senate  with his term ending in 2019.

Ntawukuriryayo chances equally doomed

Another intriguing appointment in the senate was that of the free-speaking and independent minded Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo as a Senator. What did not surprise is that he was elected President of the Senate, replacing his fellow party colleague, Dr Vincent Biruta. Until then, he was the Deputy President of the Deputy President of the Lower Chamber of Parliament. A contestant in the last presidential campaign, a similar fate, say political observers, as that of former Premier Makuza, is in the offing with his appointment.

Ntawukuriryayo, who was a presidential candidate in the 2010 elections under the Social Democratic Party (Parti Social Démocrate) has served as minister of health amongst other senior government positions. Secondly, now that he is president of the senate and PSD being a key ally of the ruling party in the power-sharing pact, it is highly unlikely that he will run and defeat an RPF candidate in the 2017 polls.
Overall though, it seems, at least according to former fellow academics at the national university where he once worked, Ntawukuriryayo’s independent mindedness and considered above ethnic politicking has made him popular among the liberal minded elite and the current political class that his political star has continued to rise.

Habumuremyi- Shortest serving Education minister

Thursday October 06 when the new Prime Minister (PM), Mr. Pierre Damien Habumuremyi was announced late evening on state radio, it made him on record the shortest-serving Minister of Education. The appointment came exactly five months and probably a few hours after Mr. Habumuremyi was named Education Minister on May 06 – a promotion that also surprised many observers.

He was recalled back from the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) to take over the education docket following turbulent months that had resulted into thousands of university students losing government sponsorship in an attempt to initiate cost-sharing and curb sprawling expenditure. The ex-education minister, Dr. Charles Murigande, repeatedly threw in the towel – failing to offer timely explanation or boldly stand by the policy.

He repeatedly said he was “just implementing” what had been decided by cabinet. By distancing himself from the controversial policy, some sections viewed that as saying: ‘am with you students and parents, it is the other members of cabinet that just wish the worst for you’.

The policy was essentially aimed at introducing cost-sharing at university with the government continuing to pay tuition for university students and develop infrastructure and parents catering for students’ daily upkeep-meals and accommodation. Amid muted public outrage – with anger mainly being directed to government via internet platforms – where people speak anonymously, government had to clearly do something. Only about 23 percent of the students formally sponsored by the government had qualified under the new plan.

President Kagame intervened, and the number of students retained for government funding shot up to more than 70 percent. The education minister, whom fellow academics at the country’s top university view as less accommodative of alternative perspectives, was only acting from the background.

Then came a cabinet reshuffle, and Dr. Murigande was sent away packing as ambassador to Japan. In came Mr. Habumuremyi. His political curriculum vitae may not be too long, but he has served in much incendiary positions before. During the hotly contested 2003 presidential elections, Habumuremyi was the Executive Secretary of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) – essentially as the man on the firing end from bitter critics of the political process.

Along with long-serving NEC chief, Prof. Chrysologue Karangwa, he came out unscathed,, calm, and ever composed thus convincing everyone who cared to listen that he was doing the right thing – despite having to be seen – along with the entire commission as less independent. The same situation re-emerged during the parliamentary polls a few months later.
Habumuremyi and his boss often sat together as fire-brand politician and ex-PM Faustin Twagiramungu stuck a knife into their handling of the elections. When the votes were counted, he barely raised enough votes to warrant him to slate the process as unfair. With just 3.62 percent of the ballots in his favour, Mr. Twagiramungu was left in disbelief as his home turf of Cyangugu equally rejected him in toto.

RPF cadre?

Habumuremyi oversaw local elections in 2005 – that ushered in a reformed territorial administrative structure of five provinces, 30 districts, several hundred sectors and thousands of cells and villages. In all the polls, that took place under his watch, the dominant RPF party and its small coalition partners carried the day. Perhaps that explains why when Habumuremyi gave his acceptance speech at Parliament buildings after taking the oath of office as the new PM; he thanked the  Rwanda Patriotic Front party, which he said had been his political mentor. Mr. Habumuremyi was replaced at NEC – just before the 2008 parliamentary elections.

He would later move on to EALA, but would later return to be take up the leadership mantle at the hot-seat that is the troubled ministry of education in May this year – a year before his five-year term came to an end. At the education ministry, he once furiously reacted to a teacher who had expressed concern over taking part at the ‘Intore’ programme. Critics claim the mass mobilisation programme is a ploy by the ruling party to compel all Rwandans to become RPF members. The backers of the programme, however, say it is only aimed at restoring the true Rwandan identity and spirit.

Taking oath of office

During the swearing in ceremony, the now ex-PM Bernard Makuza often smiled and looked composed as ever as he sat at the front row of seats reserved for cabinet ministers. In his mind, it seemed like he was telling the incoming PM that ‘I have had my fair share of that seat next to the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies’.

Makuza is now a Senator, but probably to make him get used to the seating arrangement that will eventually see him move a few rows to the back. Clearly next time that any such function takes place; Senator Makuza might take up another seat among fellow lawmakers. The sitting arrangement is that Ministers come first.

As he named the new cabinet – but of the usual old faces, the new PM caused a stir when he almost left out the minister of state for transport Alexi Nzahabwanimana. “I apologise for that,” he said, sounding embarrassed. State Minister for Energy, Ms Coletha Ruhamya lost her job – despite overseeing the recent unveiling of a methane gas extraction plant.

The Habumuremyi cabinet

With just a few hours between the period when the President named him on Thursday evening and the swearing on Friday morning, it may be unlikely that he had the time to vet who should be on his team. The constitution empowers him – in consultation with the President, to come up with a cabinet.

Firstly, the troubled education ministry remained vacant. There will be the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Dr. Mathias Harebamungu, to oversee it for some time. The information docket, which has been hanging in balance has finally been placed in the office of the president.

It will now be part of the ICT ministry, under Dr. Ignace Gatare – which puts him under scrutiny as government implements a mechanism for media self regulation. The changes mean he will be the punching bag for press freedom campaign groups and wary donors.

The Ministry of Infrastructure, which is supposed to have three junior ministers – only has one. In his brief speech, President Kagame first complained about the perception of his country– describing it as the “most scrutinised” in the world, before explaining that cabinet reshuffles are meant to move people from one position to another. Equating the many ‘competent’ people at his disposal to a soccer team, the President said not all have to be in cabinet – but can serve in other positions.

The ex-PM was seen bowing his head when the President said the outgoing premier had “done what he had to do”. It may never be public information as to why the President – just after bidding farewell to his Nigerian counterpart Goodluck Jonathan, decided to drop Mr. Makuza, but one thing is clear, he oversaw the country for over a decade.

Though falling short of appreciating the good he may have accomplished, many observers are pointing to the possibility of Mr. Makuza heading the Senate, where they assert it will his time to ‘eat’ what he has worked for.

Wider Cabinet reshuffle in offing?

Due to the change in the leader of Government’s business position, there may be another impending cabinet reshuffle which could mean many things. Political observers note that Kagame is circumspectly keeping his cards close to the chest in a bid to rein in any infighting and jockeying for power among those he perceives to be his successors which may fuel the perception that the succession issue is among the most – if not the most – serious problems of Rwandan politics thus throwing service delivery to the people to the back-burner.

Kagame knows that while succession is not an insignificant issue, it is easily oversold as has happened in other countries within the region, which has gone ahead to take the shine out of the more critical developmental agenda.

Succession remains a serious issue, however, because so much is at stake in the longer run. Once it plays out, succession may determine whether Kagame’s policies of reform and opening to the outside world are continued and perhaps deepened, or abandoned. The President has often demonstrated that he still has fire in his belly to take hard decisions as often witnessed in Thursday’s reshuffle and in numerous occasions in the past.

However, looking at Kagame’s modus operandi, there is no indication at all that he is likely to declare his preferred successor. Being a shrewd a politician, he may leave the people guessing till the next general elections are near. Hitherto, the President will most likely while away his time at Village Urugwiro doing what he does best as he scrutinises potential successors.

[The Chronicles]

October 21, 2011   No Comments